As I sit here in my basement office, I am constantly reminded of my four beautiful children. Is it because they are always on my mind? Is it because I have a huge heart for them and my thoughts just easily make their way back to them? That’s partly true, yes. But not exactly what I’m getting at here.
The reason I am constantly reminded of my children is that there is no insulation or sound-proofing between me and them. As I begin to train my thoughts on projects that I am working on (like writing this blog post), I am continually confronted with the sounds of young children.
The running back and forth throughout the house.
The crying and the yelling.
The singing (oh man…the endless singing of the same choruses over and over and over… “Let it go! “Let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore…”)
Now don’t get me wrong, I love it. I really do. There are times that I just stop and listen to all of the craziness in the rooms up above me and I realize that I am living in the very moments of life that many empty-nesters would pay anything to return to.
I get it.
But to be honest with you, it’s still pretty noisy and there are times I just need to focus and have it a little bit quieter.
It feels this way especially when there is fighting going on between the girls. In our house, it’s rarely the physical kind of fighting, but more like the mean-spirited arguing and talking down to one another that we see and hear. That, or someone has made the egregious mistake of taking something that didn’t belong to them or they looked at someone funny. (gasp!)
It’s in these moments that we (as parents) need to step in and try to get to the bottom of what’s going on. But what do we do? How do we figure out what really happened or help our kids (or grandkids) to learn how to deal with these things better?
Author, Paul Tripp, gives 5 great questions that can really help.
5 Questions Parents Should Ask
So what should we do when our kids are fighting? It’s not like we can read someone’s mind or know what’s in their heart, right? We weren’t there to see what caused all of the trouble, so how can get to the heart of the issue and discover the truth of what’s really going on?
According to parenting expert, Paul Tripp, there is a progression of 5 questions that can help. Here’s what he suggests in his book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that can Radically Change your Family.
- What’s going on?
- How did that make you feel?
- What did you do (in response)?
- What were you hoping to accomplish?
- How did it work out for you?
What I love about these 5 questions (that I abbreviated a bit) is that they don’t just seek to resolve the issue, but to truly get to the heart of the problem and reach the heart of your child.
For many of us parents, we simply want the ordeal to be over with and for the noise to end. But to those rare parents who are really engaged in their children’s lives, these moments become opportunities to demonstrate who God is and what God is like to our kids.
For example, when kids are fighting and you simply try to end the chaos, nothing is learned. But when you can walk them through their frustrations and feelings you give them an opportunity to learn more about themselves and their ability to control their responses.
These moments are amazing opportunities for parents to demonstrate a greater level of empathy and understanding to their children. It gives them the chance to show grace and how God is speaking to them and trying to get their attention or capture their hearts.
When done right, these moments are an amazing gift because they help kids to see that God has a better way of doing life in a very practical and real situation.
I love these 5 questions because they allow parents to be better listeners (as opposed to jumping right into the fight and just start yelling or demanding obedience) and it lets them find out what happened from the child’s perspective. These are key ways to win a child’s heart.
These 5 questions also remind me how we ought to approach these situations because we know that we would want someone in authority to treat us the same way. We can handle being wrong if we’re allowed to be heard and understood and kids are no different. By asking this series of questions and truly listening, it builds trust between parents and children and it can help to diffuse the situation simply by getting down to their level and not just rushing to judgment or raising our voices.
In the end, we’ll fail and fall down as parents many times. It’s unavoidable. But simple tools like this help us to get better and win in an area of life that matters the most to us: our family life.
So give the 5 questions a shot and let me know how they’ve worked for you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your stories with us.